Schiff edges higher, Garvey continues to climb in new California Senate poll

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Democratic Adam Schiff continues to lead in California’s race for U.S. Senate while Republican Steve Garvey appears to be solidifying the crucial second place spot, according to a new Inside California Politics/Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll released Tuesday morning.

The survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted several days after the top four candidates participated in an Inside California Politics debate that aired on all six local Nexstar television stations in the Golden State.

Since January, Rep. Schiff has increased his support from 25% to 28%. Garvey’s support increased from 18% to 22%; Rep. Katie Porter has climbed from 13% to 16%, while Rep. Barbara Lee’s support remained largely flat at 9%, the poll found.

17% of likely voters said they were still undecided, down from 24% in the previous Emerson College/Nexstar poll, and a handful of other candidates remain in the low single-digits.

  • U.S. Senate Poll Favorites
    U.S. Senate Poll results. February 20, 2024. (Emerson College Polling/Nexstar Media)
  • U.S. Senate Poll results. February 20, 2024. (Emerson College Polling/Nexstar Media)
    U.S. Senate Poll results. February 20, 2024. (Emerson College Polling/Nexstar Media)
  • U.S. Senate Poll issues
    U.S. Senate Poll results. February 20, 2024. (Emerson College Polling/Nexstar Media)
  • U.S. Senate Poll Immigration
    U.S. Senate Poll results. February 20, 2024. (Emerson College Polling/Nexstar Media)
  • U.S. Senate Poll Israel
    U.S. Senate Poll results. February 20, 2024. (Emerson College Polling/Nexstar Media)
  • U.S. Senate Poll Abortion
    U.S. Senate Poll results. February 20, 2024. (Emerson College Polling/Nexstar Media)
  • U.S. Senate Poll Crime
    U.S. Senate Poll results. February 20, 2024. (Emerson College Polling/Nexstar Media)

The poll has an error margin of three percentage points.

“Candidate support varies by age group,” said Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling. “Schiff’s support is highest among voters in their 60s, at 45%, and those over 70, with 39%, whereas Porter’s strength is among young voters, where she holds 23%. Notably, this group has the highest share of undecided voters at 28%. Garvey’s strength is also with older voters, with 33% support among voters over 70.”

Voters were also asked if they knew about or watched last Monday’s debate and, if so, who they believe won. 69% of those surveyed were familiar with the debate. 33% said Schiff won, followed by 19% for Porter, 18% for Garvey, and 9% said Lee.

21% of those surveyed said no candidate emerged as the clear winner.

The top two candidates from the March 5 primary will face each other in November’s general election to determine who will succeed the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Other poll findings:

  • The economy remains the top issue facing California voters (27%), followed by immigration (14%), housing affordability (14%), crime (11%), healthcare (9%), homelessness (8%), education (7%), threats to democracy (5%), and abortion (3%).

  • Independent voters are split between Garvey (23%) and Schiff (22%).

  • Voters were asked which candidate they trust to do the best job on a series of issues, regardless of which candidate they plan to vote for.

    • Crime: 32% Schiff, 25% Garvey, 19% Porter, and 12% Lee.

    • Homelessness: 29% Schiff, 26% Garvey, 20% Porter, and 13% Lee.

    • War in Israel and Gaza: 33% Schiff, 25% Garvey, 14% Porter, and 12% Lee.

    • Immigration: 32% Schiff, 27% Garvey, 17% Porter, and 11% Lee.

    • Abortion: 26% Porter, 25% Schiff, 23% Garvey, and 11% Lee.

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